I’ve been turning for a bit over two years now, and have ended up with various scraps of wood that are too small for bowls, but too good to toss into the fire. What to do?
Make some jewelry. Bangle bracelets, to be specific. Here are the first three.
As with anything, it’s been a learning process. With the first one (American elm crotch, on the left), my main objective was to get it close to the right size for my wife. She doesn’t own many bangle bracelets because she has a hard time finding any that fit her well; most are too small. I was shooting for about 70 millimeters on that one, and came pretty close. It fits well, but I wanted to make one a bit wider.
That led to attempt number two (green ash crotch, on the left). I liked the width of it, but it seems visually “heavy.” And I got a bit sloppy with the sizing, and this one is just a bit too big.
By the time I got to number three (American elm, center), I was getting more comfortable with the whole process, and I added a refinement: a sizing gauge. This was just a wood disk that I turned to be 69 millimeters diameter. Then when I was shaving down the inside of the bracelet, I was shooting for a hole that my gauge disk just barely fit into. So on that one, I feel like I got the size, the width, and the overall profile about where I like it. More importantly, I got it where my wife likes it.
I sometimes consider adding some sort of embellishment on my next project–a band of texturing or pyrography, perhaps.
And then I get something with grain like this…
…and I realize that anything I could possibly add would be like gluing sequins on a lily; it would only detract from the beauty that’s inherent in the material.
Work in progress, American elm.
Late last summer, my wife’s aunt had to have all of the elm trees on her property cut down because they had become infected with Dutch Elm disease. For some reason, the tree service left one stump intact (they ground up the rest of them), so I decided to see what I could make of it.
I sliced it into a couple of thick slabs, and then roughed out a pair of large bowls, which I placed in paper bags to slowly dry. (Letting wet wood dry slowly helps avoid the cracking and checking that happens when it dries too quickly.)
Here’s the first of the pair, which coincidentally, is the 100th bowl that I have finished.
American elm is a lovely hard wood, with an interlocking grain that creates some interesting patterns that shift as you view it from different angles. (The technical term is chatoyance.) Here’s a look at what I’m talking about.
10 3/8″ diameter, 2 3/4″ high. Danish oil finish.
American Elms are lovely trees that have been hit hard in recent decades by Dutch Elm disease, a fungal infection that has killed millions of trees in the United States. Our family farm had dozens of them in the woodlot and surrounding the yard, and one by one, they also succumbed. This bowl is from one of the last to go.
The crotch figure in this one looks to me as if the grain has been melted and sagged.
6 5/8″ diameter, 1 3/8″ high. Danish oil finish.
American Elm with crotch figure and a little spalting.